November 24, 2023

Operator- and woman-led VC NP-Hard Ventures raises its debut €12m fund to invest in early-stage startups

The fund, cofounded by Anke Huiskes, will invest in software startups in Europe and the US

Anne Sraders

3 min read

In Europe, funds led by former operators are few and far between. Add to that those run by women, and you’re dealing with an even tinier sliver of the VC pie. 

But Anke Huiskes, who’s started two angel investing syndicates, worked at several startups and incubated another, is one of the exceptions. Along with her cofounders Micha Hernandez van Leuffen and Paul Veugen (both serial founders), she’s just closed a debut €12m fund for Netherlands-based VC NP-Hard Ventures to invest in early-stage software startups — and they all have operating chops. 

Having launched the fund in early 2022, and just this week closed the fund, the trio certainly understands how tough the fundraising environment is. “It was not easy to raise this fund. Like, we didn't do it in two months,” says Huiskes. But she says that, to their surprise, they ended up raising €2m more than their initial target. 


What is NP-Hard Ventures’ strategy?

  • NP-Hard Ventures will invest average cheques of €250k into 20 more pre-seed startups. 
  • It’s focused on investing in early-stage startups in Europe and the US, with about 25% of the fund allocated to US startups, Huiskes says. Another portion — 25% — will be reserved for follow-on investments.  
  • Huiskes says she also wants to bring some of the sensibilities of the San Francisco tech scene — where she lived for seven years and where her two cofounders have also spent time — to startups in Europe. She wants to impart San Francisco's “sense of urgency for founders. Like, a lot about the speed of shipping and being a little bit paranoid about competition — to be one step ahead.”  
  • Huiskes is running the fund full time, while her cofounders van Leuffen and Veugen are investing part time. 

What kinds of startups does NP-Hard Ventures want to invest in?

  • Technical founders building software companies for enterprises. 
  • NP-Hard Ventures had its first close of about €5m in May of 2022, says Huiskes, and the firm has already made 15 investments, including Tldraw, which is creating a virtual drawing board for designing software applications; infrastructure-as-code software platform Terraform; and Emidat, which is building a platform to help building materials manufacturers reduce emissions. 
  • But you won’t see NP-Hard Ventures going after “AI” companies — at least not in so many words: “I think every company now has like a slice of AI into it. So I don't think it's a separate category anymore,” she says. 

Who’s backing NP-Hard Ventures?

  • Huiskes says the LP base is about 70 investors, which are mostly other founders and operators, as well as two universities in the Netherlands, a few family offices and one fund of funds. 

Clarification, November 24, 2023: This story has been updated to clarify that the firm started fundraising in early 2022, and that Hernandez van Leuffen and Veugen have founded multiple companies.

Anne Sraders

Anne Sraders is a senior reporter based in Berlin. She writes the Daily newsletter, which you can sign up to here. Follow her on X and LinkedIn